Oven Risotto with Mushrooms

This recipe is not really risotto, but it’s LIKE risotto! Risotto is a method and this recipe does not follow that method very much. But it is still a nice nod to labour intensive risotto and has good flavour. Enjoy!

Oven Baked Risotto
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Easy Oven Risotto with Mushrooms

This is a spin on a recipe I ran across at Epicurious. Theirs was way too fussy, so I stripped it down and made it easy! If you love risotto and are intimidated by the fussy recipes, try this one! It's easy and really delicious! Butternut squash variation in notes!
Course Main Course, Side Dish
Cuisine Italian
Keyword baked risotto, mushrooms, risotto
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Servings 6 servings
Author misangela

Equipment

  • Shallow dutch oven roasting pan or oven proof skillet
  • sheet pan

Ingredients

  • 8 oz Shiitake mushrooms, de-stemmed & cut into 1/2" pieces sub cremini, but shiitake has better texture
  • 1 Tbl olive oil to lightly coat mushrooms
  • S/P to lightly coat mushrooms
  • 1 large shallot, quartered then sliced sub 1/2 cup small diced onion
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced about 1 Tbl
  • 1 Tbl olive oil
  • 2 Tbl butter salted
  • 1 lemon, zest and juice reserve juice
  • 6 sprigs fresh thyme, leaves about 2 tsp, sub 1 tsp dry thyme
  • 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes or more if you like
  • 1/2 tsp each S/P
  • 1 cup arborio rice (risotto)
  • 1/2 cup dry vermouth sub white wine
  • 2 1/2 cups chicken broth sub veg broth to make vegetarian
  • 1 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 2 tsp fresh basil, finely chopped sub 1 tsp dry basil
  • 1 Tbl fresh parsley, finely chopped try to use fresh herb here

Instructions

  • This recipe can be made in one pot if you have a skillet type dutch oven or an oven safe skillet with a lid (or you can cover with foil). If you do not have these, you can start the risotto in a saucepan, then transfer to a 9x9 square dish or pie plate to bake, covered in foil.
  • Preheat oven to 375ºF.
  • Prep mushrooms and toss in olive oil & S/P on a sheet pan (use parchment paper or cover pan in foil for easy clean up). Put in oven to roast for about 20 minutes.
  • While mushrooms are roasting, prep the rest of the veg.
  • Put vessel over medium heat and add olive oil and butter. When hot, add in shallot, garlic, thyme, red pepper flakes and lemon zest. Cook shallots until translucent, about 4-5 minutes. Do not brown, just sweat.
  • Add rice and S/P. Stir and turn heat up to Med Hi. Stir rice for about 2 minutes then add vermouth. Stir another 2 minutes then add chicken stock and turn up heat to Hi.
  • Bring to fast simmer and cook rice for about 10 minutes, uncovered, stirring occasionally. The broth should reduce by about 1/3. Check mushrooms; you want them roasted and a bit dry, but not burnt. If done, remove from oven.
  • Turn off heat and add parmesan, basil, parsley and half the reserved lemon juice. Stir thoroughly.
  • Mushrooms should be done by this point. If they were not before.
  • Risotto should still have some broth on top. If not, add just a bit more broth for the baking. If using a skillet, dot mushrooms on top of risotto and cover. If using a saucepan, put risotto in oven proof dish, add mushrooms and cover with foil.
  • Bake (in the 375º oven) for 20 minutes. Check midway to see if risotto has gotten dry, if so, add just a little broth to keep moist.
  • Risotto is done when the broth has been absorbed, but it is not dry. The grains should be cooked either al dente (half way) or all the way. I like mine cooked through, but not mushy.
  • Check for seasoning and drizzle the last of the lemon juice over the top. Dot with more fresh parsley if you like and serve with lemon wedges.

Notes

This risotto can be a side dish, but I like it as the main. It is Italian mac n cheese and SO satisfying!  Although it's not really risotto, it is close enough for the ease of preparation! 
The mushrooms can be left off this dish, but they do offer a nice textural element.
If you'd like to add butternut squash, simply add about a cup of small diced butternut squash to the roasting pan with the mushrooms. Add to risotto with mushrooms. Easy! 
The trick to risotto is keeping it moist. It should be loose enough to pour, but not watery. If your risotto is too dry, add stock; if it's too loose, bake uncovered for a bit longer.
Cooking the risotto in a saucepan first is the method I used for this recipe. I then poured into a pie plate and baked, covered with foil. If you use the one skillet method, your cook time on the stove and the stock amount may vary. The stovetop cook time could be a bit less since the risotto has more surface area and it may require up to 3 cups of stock. Keep this in mind.
As always, DO try to use fresh herbs and do try to use shiitakes. Both will give you a better end product. But, use what you've got! Better to substitute than not cook at all. :)

It Was Nice Knowin’ Ya, America!

It is January 7, 2021 and this country has survived rioting that was incited by the soon-to-be-EX-President of the United States.

I’m going to shove all my commentary on the events of the last few days into one big post. Starting with the GA runoff elections, which were WON by Democrats, thereby flipping GA to a BLUE state.

I’ll admit, I had low expectations for the Presidential election and expected the hillbillies to keep their Saviour in office. But when we managed to stave that off, it gave me a little bit of hope. I held low expectations for the GA runoffs for Senate, but yet again, we all pulled together and made it happen. Of course, I knew the hillbillies and their fascist leader would try to say it didn’t happen.


Well, hillbillies IT DID HAPPEN and WE now have control. So FUCK YOUR FEELINGS. Isn’t that the response we got four years ago?

Then the POTUS calls the GA Attorney General and tries to coerce him to “find votes”. It was recorded. It is FACT. Here is the WaPo story AND the audio file.

At another point, Trump said: “So look. All I want to do is this. I just want to find 11,780 votes, which is one more than we have. Because we won the state.”

Transcript and audio file is here also.

On Wednesday, January 6, 2021, the Congress gathered to count the electoral college votes and make the election final. Meanwhile, the POTUS is inciting violence on Twitter (all the inciting violence tweets have already been removed, sadly):

The hillbillies descended upon our Capitol and were met with zero resistance. They rioted and stormed into the Capitol more or less uncontested. Cops moved barriers for them and there were no rubber bullets or tear gas. Why? Because they are white and they are MAGAts, that’s why. Most cops and military are MAGAts, remember. Capitol security were taking selfies with the rioters:

All T**** had to say was:

It took HOURS for any sort of law enforcement to arrive – and it wasn’t from DC, either, it was from VA. The request was initially DENIED (because T**** filled the DoD with his toadies):

Finally, law enforcement started cracking heads and gassing the terrorists out of the capitol. Four were killed and only about 50 were arrested (because: white). One hillbilly [reportedly, still looking for sources] tased himself to death IN THE BALLS while trying to steal a painting. Which is hilarious. ::cackle::

Peace was reinstated late January 6 and into early January 7, this morning. Here is a good article about the whole incident.

The rest of the world is looking at us like “What the ACTUAL FUCK, America??” And I am deeply ashamed to be an American. All republics fall, eventually, and this one is on its way down. No doubt about it. We are no longer leaders in producing goods, military, education, healthcare or overall standard of living. We have a fascist Hitler wannabe POTUS and he’s got millions of devotees who’ll riot for him. The country is divided and this is not going away.

The slobbering masses of intellectual zeros who are terrorizing our Capitol and our country will not be dissuaded by logic, facts or figures. They are slavishly devoted to their Saviour and there’s little we can do about it. They will continue terrorizing this country. Last week, one of them blew up a city block in Nashville, TN. There is little press coverage because it was a white guy and he is not being called a terrorist for the same reason. This sort of thing is going to continue.

I’ve said this before, but seriously, as soon as we are allowed to enter other countries (can’t now, because on top of the civil unrest, Covid-19 is running rampant) anyone who CAN leave, SHOULD leave. Things are not going to get better around here.

I am ashamed to be American. There is nothing I can say that would make any of the events of the last four years and especially the last few months sound sensible or civilised to anyone. NOTHING. I live in a country full of ignorant assholes who think Hitler was a hero and will resort to violence to prove their point. It’s too late for the guillotine. The madness has infected the populace. We’ve gotten political control back to the left, but I really think that T**** has pushed the hillbillies too far. They have a taste for it, now.

I sincerely hope that we can get the fuck out of here before true civil war erupts. It could be a year or it could be 10 years, but I believe it will happen. Gilead is a real possibility. As is a new Nazi regime. I just don’t want to live my twilight years in a fucked up bullshit country. Is that too much to ask? I want healthcare and QUIET. It appears that this country is not the place for either of those things any more. Such a disappointment.

2021 Reading List

Welcome to the 2021 Reading List! The list is in chronological order of when I read the books, but the first SIX are the ones carried over from 2020. Photos of books below the list. Books are moved up into the list as I read them.

Bird Box, J Malerman. The book is very close to the movie, but in several ways I think the movie was better. The movie put events in more of a linear fashion, which is easier to follow. But I’d say a good 85% of the book is represented in the movie and the movie is more suspenseful.

Sharp Objects, G Flynn. I liked this book a lot. I think the book is complementary to the mini-series on HBO with Amy Adams. The book is written from the main character’s (Camille, portrayed by Amy Adams) point of view, so you get a LOT more context about her. I also like the tweaks that the series made with Amma – she had MUCH more depth in the movie than she did in the book. Overall, a good read and excellent companion to the mini series.

Dry, Shusterman. This is a what-if type story: what if Southern California’s water really did run out? That’s the backdrop, but the story is about a small group of teens who must survive the breakdown of society that occurs in short order once the water stops. It’s a good paced read and all the action is in the space of just a few weeks. It ends on a good note, so it’s not one of those disaster books that leaves you wishing you’d not read it. Which is important at this point in time, I think.

The End of All Things, Scalzi (I think I need to read the others in this universe first, this might be on hold.)

Almighty, D Zak

Vinegar Girl, A Tyler. This book is by Hogarth press, which specializes in Shakespeare’s works, retold by modern authors. This story is Taming of the Shrew, retold as a modern tale. It is really good! It’s a great way to get your literature on, without the pain of enduring Shakespeare’s language. Read it! It’s good to read literature!

Within These Lines, S Morrill. This is a love story set in WWII San Francisco. The girl is Italian and the boy is Japanese. The story is told by alternating points of view between the two main characters. The author delves into the internment of Japanese citizens during the war and the deep racist roots of America. The conditions of the internment camps were deplorable, but the wartime propaganda machine spat out stories of now happy the Japanese were to be there and how great they were. LIES. I suppose reading this right this minute is not the best timing with the bullshit that is happening in the US, but OTOH, now is a GREAT time to remind ourselves that America is deeply racist and it is going to take a LOT of work to rid ourselves of it. Anyway, the book is a great read and you’ll learn a lot about how propaganda, suspicion and racism can combine with terrible results. The story is very good and I was misty eyed at the end. I felt deeply ashamed to that this country is still just as racist as it was in WWII – EIGHTY YEARS AGO. Perhaps when the remaining Boomers are gone we can begin to heal. Read this book to remind yourself that there is work to do and it is worth it.

The Way We Were, Paul Burrell. A memoir by Princess Diana’s butler. His second, got to milk that cash cow! Both his books made the best seller lists, strictly because Diana was on the cover. He is a dismal writer and his whole perspective is how important HE was to Diana (doubtful) and how he was her BFF and confidant (I’m certain he was NOT). The tone is preachy, self important and stodgy. Ugh. I abandoned this book. Don’t waste your time.

The Audacity of Hope, Barack Obama. Very well written and I’m also learning about how Congress works, from an insider view. The section I’m reading is exposing Obama’s VERY WIDE religious streak, which to his credit, he kept OUT of his politics. I respect him for that. He walks his talk. The last few chapters veer into family affairs and such, so less interesting to me, but overall, a good read.

Sous Chef, Michael Gibney. This edition is the large print edition, so it looks longer than it is. I picked this up on a whim, because of the title, of course. It was a quick read and I liked it. It’s a day in the life of a sous chef, written from the reader’s point of view, which is kind of odd. But if you’ve ever wondered what a sous chef does, this is a nice little read, complete with a glossary of the various kitchen terms in the back. Fun!

My Life in France, Julia Child. This is the book on which the movie Julie & Julia was based. It’s written by Julia’s grandnephew (on Paul’s side), who interviewed her and took notes during her last years. It is PRECIOUS. It has inspired me to again attempt some of the recipes from Mastering the Art of French Cooking. If you read nothing else of Julia’s, read this. It is endearing and encouraging and I just loved it. //end fangirling

Broken Music, Sting. I am enjoying this memoir! Sting is an interesting guy and his story is a good read. This is an excellent read! I love learning about the histories of people, places, bands. I did not know much about The Police, but this book certainly fixed that and I learned a lot about Sting, too. Highly recommend.

Mrs Frisby and the Rats of Nimh, Robert O’Brien. It’s a classic! Read this one in a coupla days. GREAT story! MUCH better than the animated film.

Ladder of Years, Anne Tyler. Rarely have I despised a main character as much as I do this one. She is a sniveling, immature, ignorant KAREN who got married as a teen to a clone of her father and still lives in her childhood home. She is stupid, weak, childish and narrow minded. Did I mention ignorant? She embodies the type of woman that so many of my HS peers became. Despite this, I am going to finish this novel. Either I’ll BAN Anne Tyler’s shit from my sight forever or she’ll turn this around and show me that she deserves the many kudos she’s gotten in her career. She wrote The Accidental Tourist and Breathing Lessons (both became hit movies). I know her from Vinegar Girl, which is a modern retelling of Taming of the Shrew – which was great! SEE review above. I did manage to finish this book. It did get better and the main character did improve, but it was still not very interesting. It’s a story about a 40 something woman who has a midlife crisis. Meh. It’s just OK.

The Almost Moon, Alice Sebold. Wow, this one starts off DARK. Sebold wrote The Lovely Bones, which I read a while back and loved. The movie was good, too. But this novel seems to be all about a daughter murdering her aged mother and staying in the house with the body… I had to move this to treadmill reading. I can’t read that shit before bed! We’ll see how this one goes; I’ll try to finish it.

Chum, Jeff Somers. This is an odd little book. It’s written all first person, but from ALL the characters. The book doesn’t have much of an overall theme, it’s more like a collection of vignettes AND they are not in order. It’s a good study of character writing, however, because you know immediately which character is speaking, so I’d recommend it if you like to write. But otherwise, it’s not cohesive at all and then it just ends. ? It’s just ok.


The Garden of Letters, Alyson Richman.
The Dressmaker of Khair Khana, Gayle T Lemmon.
Jasmine, Bharati Mukherjee.
The Queen’s Lover, Vanora Bennett.
Bring Me Back, B.A. Paris.
The Paris Wife, Paula McLain.
Then She Was Gone, Lisa Jewell.

Went to Ollies and got four more for the stacks:

The Distance Between Us, Reyna Grande.

ANOTHER Ollie’s!

Skinner Luce, Patricia Ward
We Walked the Sky, Lisa Fiedler

The Death of Intellect

in·tel·lect
/’in(t)l,ekt/
noun
The faculty of reasoning and understanding objectively, especially with regard to abstract or academic matters.

Every single day I see the severe lack of intellect of humans on this planet. OF COURSE it’s obvious in the US with hillbillies running rampant with their conspiracy theories, science denial and cultish behavior. But it’s not just here, it is endemic.

Facebook is the shining star of showing just how fucking idiotic people are and NextDoor is the shining star for old people who think it is FB. Every single day I see stupid posts, stupid comments and just overall mournfully moronic evidence that the human species is definitely on the downward trend.

If I had a dollar for every comment that asks for information that is in the goddam post, I’d retire to the South of France and never be heard from again.

I weep for the complete lack of intellect that I see daily. People who cannot understand even the simplest concept. People who cannot discern blatant lies from truth. People who cannot discriminate between reality and unreality.

Lack of intellect encompasses all the people who refuse to find out information on their own. Every day, I see people who are begging for help from everyone else, yet they have done absolutely NOTHING to help themselves. Example:

There is a guy on ND, begging for help and money for his bizarre health condition. He’s run up $600k of medical bills for nothing more than TESTS. He has not had ONE SINGLE THING done about the condition. Just tests. And he’s begging for money for MORE tests. He simple does what the Drs tell him to do – over and over again – never once questioning the redundant tests or the lack of ACTUAL treatment. The particular ailment has a LARGE psychological part to it, that I found in a 10 second Google search that sent me to NIH documents. Of course this guy has never even googled the ailment. And of course he’s not seen a shrink for anxiety because he’s been too busy getting medical tests done. I gave him the search link to the NIH, which contained MANY medical research excerpts about this ailment. My comment was completely ignored by the myriad people busily advising him to get more insurance and get more tests.

This guy has no desire to help himself. Clearly. He’d rather whine and have the other intellectual zeros whine with him. Not being able to discern the difference between continuous, redundant TESTING and getting actual MEDICAL CARE is a perfect example of zero intellect. It is rampant in this country, which is why horrible medical care is still happening. Americans are too intellectually stunted to understand that our system is FUCKED and we should dump it. Immediately. I still see people who say insurance is the only way! Why? Because they don’t even understand that large companies SUBSIDIZE insurance, so you pay only a fraction of the actual cost of premiums and they think that medical care actually costs what the insurance companies SAY it costs. They do NOT.

Another example: Willful ignorance. Being willfully ignorant does not absolve anyone from supporting that fascist, racist, misogynist piece of shit T****. And YES you are willfully ignorant if you STILL support T****. Voting for him once MIGHT get a pass, but voting for him twice is just plain stupid. Voting for him TWICE shows that NONE of his bullshit is a deal breaker for you, therefore, you are complicit in EVERYTHING that has happened. You condone everything T**** stands for and you are an ignorant asshole. Period. You are an intellectual ZERO.

It feels like it is getting worse, but I have to cut young people slack for being young. Young people have been raised in shitty schools with nothing more than multiple choice tests, which does nothing for learning to THINK, but they are also young and have no experience, either.

But people who are my age (Gen X, I’m looking at YOU) should have enough experience to overcome shitty schooling and should have a bit more intellect to call upon. Alas, I don’t see that. Gen X seems to be about as bad as Boomers for being unable to navigate information and discerning truth from fiction.

I have no fixes for any of this, mind you, I just felt the need to bitch about the morons I see online every single day. I struggle to keep my own intellect intact while withstanding the onslaught of DUMB.

It’s obvious the human race is on the decline. We’ll end ourselves, I’m sure of it. And I really think the Earth will be better for it. The Earth will carry on, repair the damage we’ve done and perhaps a new species will arise that has more sense. Perhaps it will be dolphins and they’ll appreciate all the fish.

Holiday Oyster Stew

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Angela's Holiday Oyster Stew

Oyster stew is a traditional Christmas Eve meal. I didn't like any of the recipes I found, so I wrote my own. This is an easy stew to make and very satisfying!
Course Main Course, Soup
Cuisine American
Keyword creamy oyster stew, holiday, oyster stew
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 25 minutes
Servings 8 servings
Author misangela

Ingredients

  • 1 large shallot, small dice (or two smallish ones) sub about 1/4 cup finely diced onion
  • 2 stalks celery, finely sliced
  • 1 med carrot, scrubbed, halved and finely sliced dice if carrot is large; about 1/3 cup
  • 1 med leek, cleaned, halved then finely sliced
  • 1 small fennel bulb, finely diced, about 2/3 cup
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced about 1.5 Tbl
  • olive oil for cooking veg, about 1 Tbl
  • 1 tsp each, S/P use white pepper if you prefer
  • 4 Tbl butter I always use salted
  • 4 Tbl flour, any type
  • 1/4 cup sherry optional
  • 1 med lemon, zest and juice about 1-2Tbl juice, to taste
  • 4 cups fish stock sub veg stock
  • 2 Tbl sherry vinegar sub white wine or champagne vinegar
  • 2 Tbl L&P Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 Tbl Frank's Hot sauce or whatever you like
  • 1 16oz container shucked oysters with liquor, cut into bite sized pieces (they are LARGE; 4-5 pc EA) OR 1-2 dozen large freshly shucked oysters (SEE NOTES)
  • 2/3 cup heavy cream, up to 3/4 cup, to taste
  • 1/2 cup sour cream or crème fraîche optional, but adds thickness
  • 2 Tbl fresh tarragon, minced +/- to taste; sub basil (use HALF for dry)
  • 1 Tbl fresh mint, minced optional but lovely with tarragon or basil (HALF for dry)
  • 2 Tbl fresh parsley, minced adds freshness, use fresh parsley or omit
  • fennel fronds for garnish

Instructions

  • Do all your prep first. Have all ingredients ready to go.
  • Heat a large dutch oven over medium heat. Cover bottom with olive oil and gently sweat shallot, celery, carrots, leeks, fennel and garlic.
  • When veg is translucent, add butter and when melted, add flour. Stir the flour, butter and veg and turn up the heat to med hi while stirring. 
  • Add lemon zest and sherry, stir. Add fish stock and turn up heat to hi. Bring to boil for one minute, reduce to simmer. 
  • At simmer, add sherry vinegar, L&P, Franks and herbs. Taste for S/P levels. Add oysters and liquor. Cook at simmer for about 10 minutes. 
  • Off heat, add cream, lemon juice and sour cream, then check seasoning one more time.
  • Serve with fennel fronds and a swirl of Franks. Toasted baguette is great for this soup. 

Notes

Do make an effort to use fresh herbs for this stew. They really do make all the difference.
I use a LOT of tarragon because I love fresh tarragon and it goes so well with fennel. Feel free to dial it back if you don't like that anise flavour. Or omit and use basil instead.
I like a bright taste, so I used about 2Tbl lemon juice. Tune the amount to your taste. SAME with the cream. You want a balance between cream and citrus.
If the stew is too thick, thin a bit with water. Mine was too thin, so I doubled the butter and flour.
The pre-shucked oysters are very large, they were cut into 4-5 pcs EACH. If you shuck fresh oysters, you need about 30-40 pcs, so figure your amount that way.
This recipe makes about 2 quarts. It CANNOT be frozen due to the cream.